Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

among the hills and valleys of Italy, and earned their daily subsistence by the sword. To that formidable sword the princes of Capua, Beneventum, Salerno, and Naples, alternately appealed in their domestic quarrels; the superior spirit and discipline of the Normans gave victory to the side which they espoused; and their cautious policy observed the balance of power, lest the preponderance of any rival state should render their aid less important, and their service ess profitable. Their first asylum was a strong camp in the iepth of the marshes of Campania: but they were soon endowed by the liberality of the duke of Naples with a more plentiful and permanent seat. Eight miles from his residence, as a bulwark against Capua, the town of Aversa was built and fortified for their use; and they enjoyed as their own the corn and fruits, the meadows and groves, of that fertile district. The report of their success attracted every year new swarms of pilgrims and soldiers: the poor were urged by necessity; the rich were excited by hope; and the brave and active spirits of Normandy were impatient of ease and ambitious of renown. The independent standard of Aversa afforded shelter and encouragement to the outlaws of the province, to every fugitive who had escaped from the injustice or justice of his superiors; and these foreign associates were quickly assimilated in manners and language to the Gallic colony. The first leader of the Normans was Count Rainulf; and, in the origin of society, preeminence of rank is the reward and the proof of superior merit.1* *

18 See the first book of William Appulus. His words are applicable to every swarm of Barbarians and freebooters:—

Si vicinorum quia pernit.iosun ad illos
Confugiebat eum gratanter stiscipiebant:
Moribus et lingua quoscumque venire videbant
Informant propria; gens efflciatur ut una.

And elsewhere, of the native adventurers of Normandy:—

Pars parat, exiguae vel opes aderant quia nulla):
Pars, quia de magnis majora subire volebant.

* This account is not accurate. After the retreat of the emperor Hcmy if., the Normans, united under the command of Rainulf, had taken possession of Aversa. then a small "astle in the duchy of Naples. They had been masters of it a few years when Pandulf IV., prince of Capua, found means to take Naples by surprise. Sergius. master of the soldiers, and bead of the republic, with the principal citizens abandoned a city in which he could not behold, without horror, the establishment of a foreign domin fcc be retired to Aversa: and when, with the assistance of the Greek*

Since the conquest of Sicily by the Arabs, the Grecian emperors bad been anxious to regain that valuable possession; but their efforts, however strenuous, had been opposed by the distance and the sea. Their costly armaments, after a gleam of success, added new pages of calamity and disgrace (o the Byzantine annals: twenty thousand of their best troops were lost in a single expedition; and the victorious Moslems derided the policy of a nation which intrusted eunuchs not only with the custody of their women, but with the command of their men.20 After a reign of two hundred years, the Saracens were ruined by their divisions.11 The emir disclaimed the authority of the king of Tunis; the people rose agains the emir; the cities were usurped by the chiefs; each meanei rebel was independent in his village or castle; and the weaker of two rival brothers implored the friendship of the Christians. In every service of danger the Normans were prompt and useful; and five hundred knights, or warriors on horseback, were enrolled by Arduin, the agent and interpreter of the Greeks, under the standard of Maniaces, governor of Lombardy. Before their landing, the brothers were reconciled: the union of Sicily and Africa was restored; and the island was guarded to the water's edge. The Normans led the van and the Arabs of Messina felt the valor of an untried foe In a second action the emir of Syracuse was unhorsed anc transpierced by the iron arm of William of Hauteville. In a third engagement, his intrepid companions discomfited the host of sixty thousand Saracens, and left the Greeks no more than the labor of the pursuit: a splendid victory; but of which the pen of the historian may divide the merit with the lance of the Normans. It is, however, true, that they r«ssentially promoted the success of Maniaces, who reduces thirteen

"Liutprand, in Legatione, p. 485. Pagi has illustrated this event from the MS. history of the deacon Leo, (torn. iv. A. D. '/65, No. \1

n See the Arabian Chronicle of Sicily, apud Muratori, Script. Re rum Ital. torn. i. p. 253.

and that of the citizens faithful to their country, he had ccHected money enough to satisfy the rapacity of the Norman adventurers, lie advanced at their head to attack the garrison of the prince of Capua, defeated it, and reentered Naples. It was then that he confirmed the Normani? :n the po» •ensiou of Aversa and its territory, which he raised into a cow i's fief, and granted the investiture to Rainulf. Hist, des Rep. Ital. leu i B. 267

a

cities, and the greater part of Sicily, under the obedience oi the emperor. But his military fame was sullied by ingratitude and tyranny. In the division of the spoils, the deserts of ais brave auxiliaries were forgotten; and neither their avarice nor their piide could brook this injurious treatmeut. They complained by the mouth of their interpreter: their complaint was disregarded; their interpreter was scourged; the sufferings were his the insult and resentment belonged tc those whose sentiments he had delivered. Yet they dissembled till they had obtained, or stolen, a safe passage to the Italian continent: their brethren of A versa sympathized in their indignation, and the province of Apulia was invaded as the forfeit of the debt.21 Above twenty years after the first emigration, the Normans took the field with no more than seven hundred horse and five hundred foot; and after the recall of the Byzantine legions 23 from the Sicilian war, their numbers are magnified to the amount of threescore thousand men. Their herald proposed the option of battle or retreat; "of battle," was the unanimous cry of the Normans; and one of their stoutest warriors, with a stroke of his fist, felled to the ground the horse of the Greek messenger. He was dismissed with a fresh horse; the insult was concealed from the Imperial troops; but in two successive battles they were more fatally instructed of the prowess of their adversaries. In the plainof Cannae, the Asiatics fled before the adventurers of France; the duke of Lombardy was made prisoner; the Apulians acquiesced in a new dominion; and the four places of Bari, Otranto, Brundusium, and Tarentum, were alone saved in the shipwreck of the Grecian fortunes. From this aera we may date the establishment of the Norman power, which soon eclipsed the infant colony of Aversa. Twelve counts" were

111 Jeffrey Malaterra, who relates the Sicilian war, and the conquest if Apulia, (1. i. c. 7, 8, 9, 19.) The same events are described by Cedrenus (torn. ii. p. 741—743, 755, 756) and Zonaras, (torn. ii. ,>. 237. 2P8;) and tht Greeks are so hardened to disgrace, that their narra tives are impartial enough.

"Cedrenus specifies the rAmm of the Obsequium, (Phrygia ) and the jut'oos of the Thracesians, (Lydia: consult Constantine de Tnenwtibus, i. 3, 4, with Delisle's map;) and afterwards names the Knidtam ird Lycaonians with the fcederati.

1 Omnes conveniunt; et Us sex nobiliores,

Quos genus et grivitas morum decorabat et setas,
Elegere duces. Provectis ad comitatum
His alii parent. Comitatus nomeu honoris

chosen b) the >opular suffrage; and age, birth, and merit, were the motives of their choice. The tributes of their peculiar districts were appropriated to their use; and each count erected a fortress in the midst of his lands, and at the head of his vassals. In the centre of the province, the common habitation of Melphi was reserved as the metropolis and oitadel }f the republic; a house and separate quarter was allotted to sach of the twelve counts: and the national concerns were regulated by this military senate. The first of his peers, theii president and general, was entitled count of Apulia; and thi? dignity was conferred on William of the iron arm, who, ii the language of the age, is styled a lion in battle, a lamb it society, and an angel in council.86 The manners of hi.. countrymen are fairly delineated by a contemporary and na tional historian."8 "The Normans," says Malaterra, "are a cunning and revengeful people; eloquence and dissimulation appear to be their hereditary qualities: they can stoop to flatter; but unless they are curbed by the restraint of lawv they indulge the licentiousness of nature and passion. Theii princes affect the praises of popular munificence; the people observe the medium, or rather bli nd the extremes, of avarice and prodigality; and in their eager thirst of wealth and dominion, they despise whatever they possess, and hope whatever they desire. Arms and horses, the luxury of dress, the

Quo donantur erat Hi totas undique terras
Divisere sibi, ni sors inimica repugnet;
Singula proponunt loca quae contingere sorte
Cuique duci debent, et quaeque tributa locorum.

And after speaking of Melphi, William Appulus adds,

Pro numero comitum bis sex statuere plateas,
Atque domus comitum totidem fabricantur in urbe.

Leo Ostiensis (1. ii. c. 67) enumerates the divisions of the Apulia» cities, which it is needless to repeat.

16 Gulielm. Appulus, 1. ii. c 12, according to the reference of Giannone, (Istoria Civile di Napoli, torn. ii. p. 31,) which 1 cannot verify in the original. The Apulian praises indeed his validas viren, yrobitas animi, and vivida virtus; and declares that, had he lived, no roet could have equalled his merits, (1. i. p. 258, L ii. p. 259.) He was l«»wailed by the Normans, quippe qui tanti consilii virum, (says Mala lerra, 1. i. c. 12, p. 552,) tani armis strenuum, tarn sibi munificum, ahV Lilem. morigeratum, ulterius se habere diffidebant.

"The gen? astutissima, injuriarum ultrix .... adulari sciens .... •loquentiis inserviens, of Mala'erra, (1. i. c. 3, p. 550,) are espr »!«▼« of toe popular >uid proverbial character of the Normans.

exercises of hunting and hawking" are the delight of the Normans; but, on pressing occasions, they can endure with incredible patience the inclemency of every climate, and the toil and absence of a military life.""

The Normans of Apulia were seated on the verge of tho two empires; and, according to the policy of the hour, they accepted the investiture of their lands, from the sovereigns of Germany or Constantinople. But the firmest title if these adventurers was the right of conquest: they neither loved nor trusted; they were neither trusted nor beloved: the contempt of the princes was mixed with fear, and the fear of the natives was mingled with hatred and resentment. Every object of desiie, a horse, a woman, a garden, tempted and gratified the rapaciousness of the strangers;" and the avarice of their chiefs was only colored by the more specious names of ambition and glory. The twelve counts were sometimes joined in the league of injustice: in their domestic quarrels they disputed the spoils of the people: the virtues of William were buried in his grave; and Drogo, his brother and successor, was better qualified to lead the valor, than to restrain the violence, of his peers. Under the reign of Oonstantine Monomachus, the policy, rather than benevolence, of the By zantine court, attempted to relieve Italy from this adherent mischief, more grievous than a flight of Barbarians;" and Argyrus, the son of Melo, was invested for this purpose with

n The hunting and hawking more properly belong to the descendant* tf the Norwegian sailors; though they might import from Norway 4iid Iceland the finest casts of falcons.

28 We may compare this portrait with that of William of Malmsbury, (de Gestis Anglorum, 1. iii. p. 101, 102,) who appreciates, like a philosophic historian, the vices and virtues of the Saxons and Normans. England was assuredly a gainer by the conquest.

29 The biographer of St. Leo IX. pours his holy venom on the Nor mans. Videns indisciplinatam et alienam gentem Normannorum, crudeli et inaudita rabie, et plusquam Pagana impietate, adversus ecclesias Dei insurgere, passim Christianos trucidare, <fcc, (Wibert, c. 8.) The honest Apulian (1. ii. p. 259) says calmly of their accuser, Veris commiscens fallacia.

30 The policy of the Greeks, revolt of Maniaces, (fee, must be collected from Cedrenus, (torn. ii. p. 757, 758,) William Appulus, (1. i. p 267, 258, 1. ii. p. 259,) and the two Chronicles < f Bari, by Li pis Pro toepata, (Muratori, Script. Ital. torn. v. p. 42, 43, 44,) and an arv^ymous uriter, (Antiquitat Italise Medii iEvi, torn. L p 81—35.) Th«* last u ft fragment of some value.

« ForrigeFortsett »